Erland and the Carnival

Erland and the Carnival

Erland Cooper and his Carnival are unlikely to be fazed by Glasgow’s notoriously ‘lively’ gig-goers. Although based in London, these are no southern pansies: Cooper was raised on Orkney’s stormswept outcrops, and cut his teeth as a performer in the none-too-forgiving setting of bandmate Simon Tong (he of Verve fame)’s London folk club.

‘It wasn’t like a conventional folk night with woolly jumpers and beards and bald heads,’ he explains. ‘These acts would get up and the audience were just getting on with their business, having a good time. But what made it just slightly crazy was the compere. He/she was a transvestite called Sasha… yes, definitely a man. He kind of looked like Bob Dylan, and he would completely berate you before you even got up. So, you’re standing there, shit-scared, about to play to what’s effectively a baying mob, and then the compere says something really sweet, followed up by something so horrific and so cutting that I’m not even going to repeat it.’

Following this baptism of fire, Cooper bonded with Tong over a mutual appreciation of folk singer Jackson C Frank, and in particular the song ‘My Name is Carnival’, which appears on the group’s imminent album and also gave rise to their name. The sound of the resulting record is folky, with a 60s garage spin and the odd psychedelic surprise; the songs are a mixture of originals and gathered pieces of English and Scottish folk tunes. ‘We do definitely re-assemble folk in a way, but not in a disrespectful way,’ says Cooper. ‘I think the purists will dislike what we do but we don’t really care that much.’ And nor should they.

Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Sat 13 Feb

Erland and the Carnival

Psychedelic folk trio formed by Verve/The Good, the Bad & the Queen guitarist Simon Tong, and fronted by Orcadian singer Erland Cooper. 'Part of Stag and Dagger festival'.


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